This is everything you need to know about catching the train from Bucharest to Chisinau
I can honestly say catching the train from Bucharest to Chisinau was one of the best train journeys I had while travelling through Eastern Europe.
This Soviet-era train harks backs to a different time. A time when Russia ruled to roost, and catching the train from Bucharest to Chisinau isn’t just a way of getting from one place to another – it is like travelling on a museum.
As many travellers will know, there is something quite romantic about travelling on an overnight train from one country to another. I love nothing more than settling down for the night and watching the world go by through a window. Not only that, but it is always such an authentic experience.
Travelling by train from Bucharest to Chisinau is no different, so here’s everything you need to know about how to catch the train.
Where to catch the train from in Bucharest:
You catch the train from Bucharest to Chisinau from the main international station; Gara du Nord.
Gara du Nord can be accessed from the metro stations (either line M1 or M3 will take you directly to Gara du Nord). A metro ticket costs 4 lei, so around about €1.
Once at Gara du Nord, you will need to walk to the international ticket office (this is on the far left as you face the station). Alternatively, ask someone where it is when you are there.
The ticket booth you want to buy a ticket from Bucharest to Chisinau is booth number one.
How much does a ticket from Bucharest to Chisinau cost?
A train ticket from Bucharest to Chisinau costs 155 lei (approximately €36).
The train leaves at 19:35 and arrives in Chisinau at 08:55. The trains are like German clockwork; they are always on time.
To find which platform it leaves from, check your train number with the main Gara du Nord departure board; it is very hard to mess this up.
Don’t be alarmed when the conductor takes your ticket — this is routine and they will give it back to you upon arrival in Chisinau.
Unfortunately, you can’t currently book a ticket online, though I’m sure this will change at some point in the future.
How long does the train take?
The train from Bucharest to Chisinau takes approximately 13 and a half hours, so make sure you’ve got plenty of food and water before you board the train.
I don’t there there was a food carriage but I didn’t explore too much so I could be wrong about that.
What’s the room like?
As I am sure you can imagine, the train from Bucharest to Chisinau isn’t exactly the most popular, so it’s rare to share your room with more than one other person (there are four beds per room).
If you really want to be on your own, often there are spare, empty rooms so just walk along the carriages looking for a different cabin.
Speak to the conductor, offer him a tip and ask if you can change rooms. This is almost guaranteed to work too.
Crossing the border from Bucharest to Chisinau:
Your passport will be checked twice; once when you leave Romania, and once when you enter Moldova.
Now, this border crossing can take quite a bit of time (on my return it took around three hours). This is because they need to change the wheels on the train (yes, you read that right – they need to change the wheels).
It was Stalin’s great idea that certain countries should have different thickness railroad tracks (they are slightly thicker in Moldova so the trains from Bucharest quite literally stop on these tracks).
Stalin’s reasoning was this – he wanted to prevent smuggling of drugs, guns, money you name it, into his borders. Also, he wanted to stall the Germans should they ever invade Russia, hence the difference in track size. These days it is just a major inconvenience.
To change the wheels, they have to hoist the train up and physically pull the wheels out from underneath it; as I am sure you can imagine, this can take some time.
As this usually happens around 1 or 2am, the best thing you can do is keep your passport in your pocket and drift off to sleep; a border patrol guard will wake you if they need anything.
Once you’ve got through the border, it is straight to the capital city, Chisinau.
Once in Chisinau, save yourself the time and hassle by getting a taxi to the city centre.
Dangers and annoyances in Moldova:
Beware of people speaking surprisingly good English wanting to help you out – more often than not it is a scam or they want something.
Either they will want money for giving you the information (as if you couldn’t work it out for yourself), or they might try this:
If it is obvious you’ve never been to Gara du Nord before or that you’ve just come from another country, they will offer to pay for your ticket for you knowing you won’t have any Romanian lei.
Obviously feeling bad some “kind” stranger has just paid for your ticket, you immediately go to an ATM machine to repay them back.
Once they see how much money you have taken out, they will ask for a fee for “helping you out”. If you get to this stage, just give them 10 lei (approximately €2) and walk away.
This happened to a couple of friends of mine, so it does actually happen!
So there you go. That’s everything you need to know about catching the train from Bucharest to Chisinau.
As I said, catching the train from Bucharest to Chisinau is such an amazing experience and it was definitely one of my highlights while travelling around Eastern Europe. Just give it a go and you’ll find out for yourself!
Have you ever caught the train from Bucharest to Chisinau? It so what did you think of the experience? Let me know in the comments below!
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